Richard H. Stephens is a fantasy writer based in Cambridge, Ontario. He is the author of the the Soul Forge Saga, an epic fantasy series. I first met him at a literary event in Toronto, where we shared a uncomfortably hot tent and mused about writing while trying not to pass out. Let’s see what else we can learn about Richard and his process.
Who is your favourite character?
That is like asking who is your favourite child. I don’t really have a favourite character, but I have a few that I love writing about. Olmar the giant from the Soul Forge Saga has got to rank up near the top. He is a dullard with a simpleton’s outlook on life, but his unswerving devotion to those he cares about and his special way of speaking enamours me every time I write about him.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Pantser all the way. I pick a place in time and insert a character. I have them put one foot in front of the other and follow along, writing down everything I see through their eyes as we discover their world together.
Do your characters adhere to the ideas you have set out for them?
Never. The little ingrates never appreciate the struggle I go through to get them from point ‘A’ to point ‘B.’ They are forever straying away from the storyline and getting into trouble. I guess that’s what I love about writing—I never know where the journey’s taking me until we get there.
Music or the sound of silence?
Music, for sure. Depending on the scene I’m writing at the time, my music selection can vary from ‘Sad Epic Music’ to ‘Heavy Metal.’
Where do you come up with your ideas?
I’m not really sure. They just happen. Most of my ideas develop after the story unfolds. My biggest epiphanies occur when I’m in the shower, or they wake me up in the middle of the night and I force myself to slip into my home office to write them down so I don’t forget them come morning.
Perhaps the biggest idea of all, the one that drove the entire Soul Forge Saga, came to me after my cover artist inadvertently gave a staff to one of the characters on the original cover. I had 178,000 words written and not once had I mentioned the old man with a beard carrying a staff. Before I questioned the artist, an idea festered in the whirling abyss of my mind and the entire premise of the series made itself known. It even sparked a second series, Legends of the Lurker. Who knows how far that one simple oversight will take me?
Who are your favourite authors?
I love so many and not all of them are fantasy authors. If pressed, I would say, Terry Brooks, Stephen R. Donaldson, and R.A. Salvatore.
What is your go to writing snack?
PEZ! When they aren’t around, which is most of the time unfortunately, I usually have a bowl of mixed nuts or Virginia peanuts on my desk.
Coffee or tea?
Coffee first thing in the morning as I check social media and marketing. Next comes a smoothie to sip on while editing yesterday’s writing. (Or filling out Zeedub Bezzies!) Then comes tea after lunch as I ease into writing, and finally wine in the afternoon as I keep on writing.
What advice you would give to those first starting out as a writer?
Write the best you can at the moment you are in and move on. Believe in yourself and remember that if you don’t write it, we can’t read it.
Would you like to say anything else?
Whatever your dream is, embrace it. Life isn’t a rehearsal. You don’t get to come back to do things differently. Chase that dream. Grab it by the horns and wrestle it to the ground. At the end of the day, you’re the only one accountable if it slips away. I would also like to thank Zachry Wheeler for this amazing opportunity of Monumental Importance!
(Ha! I see what you did there. And you are most welcome, my friend.)